A day-to-day, true to life drama of a Jamaican male, living and working in Japan.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Things Foreigners Should Know About Japan Before Living Here Part 1 (Re-post)

Days 1551 - 1557
Sunday, June 17 - Saturday, June 23, 2012


Day 1551( One Love Dub Poetry Performance at Evening Musings)
Sunday, June 17, 2012

So I wrote a poem to say at the One love festival in May but it didn't work out as planned. So I performed it tonight at a Jamaican restaurant in Harajuku, Tokyo name Jamrock. This was my second time there. Went there back in December 2010. I invited a few of my friends and most of them came out. Even my Wednesday evening student came along with his wife. 


This was a "poetry night" of sorts dubbed "Evening Musings" put on by a group called "Writer's Block, Tokyo" and done once a month at this same Jamaican restaurant. I had no idea there were so many performing poets in this area. I love this kinda stuff as those who know me personally, already know. Thanks for telling me about it Biankah....  Some guys from Australia and Scotland also performed, as well as a couple of us Jamaicans and I think 1 American guy. While one of the guys were performing, some dude at the door kept interrupting. I am not sure why. He was definitely drunk and he was pissing off most of us. He kept shouting "What is IRAQ spelled backwards"?????? Seriously Like what tha???? 

Outside of that, it was pretty good. Poetry of all sorts and forms. The last time I performed was in April. I wish I had more opportunities though. Back in Jamaica it was pretty much weekly or close to that. I performed "wi waah peace" and the poem I wrote for the One love Jamaica Festival event called "One Love".


Mi borrowing some of yuh pichas Biankah ....










Here is my performance of "One Love"






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Day 1552 ( Things Foreigners Should Know About Japan Before Living Here Part 1 )


Monday, June 18, 2012

Backed by popular demand is a series of blog posts I made in 2009 about what foreigners should expect before coming to Japan. It was a 4 part series, but I will attempt to re-post them in 2 with some minor tweaking. I spoke about some of these things  quite a bit before. Sorry, this going to be a long blog so take your time.

Here they are again:


1) You will be stared at - 


Whether you like it or not, whether you are black, white or purple, unless you wear your
Asian suit, you will be stared at..... However, the intensity of the stares vary from community to community, prefecture to prefecture, town to town etc... for eg... In the BIG city parts of Hiroshima, Osaka, Fukuoka, Tokyo and Kobe etc. The stares are far less intense...I wish I could say the same for Yokohama but it is not so....


Let me see if I can further break this down by race and if you are in a very rural town or even suburban area......Yokohama is city but many people behave like people from the country side, with the exception of being nice. 


White/latin or otherwise clear skinned --------------- -------Stare intensity x3


2 or more clear skinned persons are seen together -----------Stare intensity x5


A non-Asian clear skinned and an Asian (Japanese or otherwise) Stare intensity x6


The intensity increases if its 2 people of the opposite sex. And this may be accompanied by chatter and occasional laughs


Black or dark skinned in any way ----------------------------Stare intensity x7 


2 or more dark skinned persons are seen together -----------Stare intensity x9 (accompanied by a very very uncomfortable look and demeanor )


A mixed crowd of dark skinned and clear skinned people together---Stare intensity x10


A dark skinned person and an Asian ------------------------- Stare intensity x12
The intensity increases if its 2 people of the opposite sex. And this may be accompanied by chatter and occasional laughs.




Again this is in the rural areas and in Yokohama as well. I do remember going to Tokyo, and this lady was walking by and could not stop staring.


As to why foreigners are stared at so much, its still beyond me. There are many reasons and excuses given. If you are black..... God help you, especially in Yokohama.... 


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2) Japan is Expensive


Many people assume wrongly that because these brands like, SONY, TOSHIBA, PANASONIC, SHARP etc etc etc.. are Japanese brands, it means that they are cheaper in Japan... Ha... nothing could be further from the truth.... Those brands are here in abundance yes but the products, what ever it is, are not cheap.... Its probably the same price or more expensive here... Even bread and soda are expensive here... The only thing that I can think of that is cheaper here in Japan, are cars. Nothing!!!! else that I can think of is cheaper here.


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3) Many Japanese people you meet, may ask you the same set of questions ... Most popular questions include:


i) what is the difference between Japanese and Jamaican women?
iii) how long have you been/plan to be in Japan?
iv) why did you come to Japan? (a lot of them are actually expecting you to say the culture)
v) do you like Japan?
vi) do you like the food?


Almost every Japanese person you meet in Japan, will ask some or all of these questions to you.



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4) Japan is an extremely paradoxical country


i) So even though Japan is big on technology and has these name brand technological stuff... If you should go in a regular school classroom, you might see very old computers with old Windows operating systems... Ohh and at some schools, not sure if its all of them.... The class rooms do not have AC units... So in the hot and humid summer, you will fry, if you are a teacher.


ii) You can find very old buildings and companies that are around even before 700 BC SERIOUSLY!!! As a matter of fact the 2 oldest companies in the world are Japanese. they are Kongo Gumi and Ho-Shi owned by the same family for centuries. But at the same time, just around the road from those old buildings, you might have a highly sophisticated, earthquake proof, rotating building full of lights....


iii) You will have persons who realllly love foreigners or are realllly disgusted by foreigners...


iv) Japan is one of the most peaceful countries in the world, but they also have one of the highest suicide rates in the world



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5) Time - 

Everything is on time in Japan... And sometimes ridiculously early... If a Japanese person says they will meet you at 5:00 they really mean 4:45.




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6) Food -


Some of the foods here are delicious, some are not so good. But in general, being very very general here, if you refuse food offered to you by a Japanese person, then it is equivalent to throwing the food in their face...... And you are expected to eat everything given to you.... If you are eating around kids, you will be stared at...... and even though you are already weird because you are not Japanese, you will even seem weirder if you don't like the food given to you....

So don't be surprised if you are offered food that you don't like, refuse it, then start to get some weird treatment from the person(s) who offered it to you...


eg. My friend back in 2008, refused the school milk and ooooh Boy.....He had a difficult time getting through the school year with the teachers.....


A former teacher back in Okayama also opted to take lunch to work and suddenly everyone started to treat her weird.


For me, when I just got here in 2008, I told a principal that I didn't want to take the lunch for only 1 month, because I was planning to save to go to Germany... And he instantly called my company...... Its a little different in Yokohama it seem though. It appears they have no problem if you refuse the lunch. 


Well again, thats just their culture, we in the west couldn't care less if you eat our food or not... We just need to understand each other thats all... Westerners don't like to be forced into doing anything...



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7) People who you met before, may pretend not to know you


Ok so maybe say you go to a friends house and met several Japanese persons. The possibility exist that you might see one of them in the Supermarket the very next day and they don't pay you any mind.... Some may even stare you in the eye and look away... This has happened to me several times... My friends in Kobe, said it happened to them too.



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8) You will be discussed


Whether at work, at the shopping mall or wherever, Japanese people will talk about you. If you are in the mall and a group of persons are talking about something, as soon as you are seen by them, the conversation will instantly change to discuss you.



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9) People may run away from you or be scared of you



Back in Okayama, A former friend of mine said he opened his apartment door and 3 Japanese high school students scattered in 3 different directions, one apparently hurting herself... My Jamaican friend who is in Nagoya (which is maybe the 5th or 6th biggest city in Japan by population) said she was in the super market, and she attempted to ask an old lady a question... When the old lady saw her, she walked away quickly to the other food aisle.



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10) Assumptions


If you are black, the general assumption by many Japanese people, will be that you are from somewhere in Africa... And most Japanese people see Africa as a country and not a continent. If you are white they will assume that you are from the USA.


11) Some Japanese people are unbelievably helpful and kind.

Sometimes I wonder if people can be so kind and helpful. Some of them will go the extra mile for you. Car trouble, at the bank, at the supermarket, you name it... some of them will get the detailed information for you about whatever you need help with.



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12) Some Japanese people are very hypocritical

So off the bat, Japan is big on customer service...  They will give them self the wrong most of the time. Its a society, built on politeness at all cost. So sometimes even if you do something wrong, you might not know. And sometimes, if someone at your workplace don't like you, you might not know... Well thats unless you turn away food offered to you. Anger is rarely shown if at all. In Jamaica its the opposite. eg. My friend said a Japanese driver almost hit him down because of his (my friend's) blunder. And all the Japanese driver did was nodded and say sumimasen (excuse me ).



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13) Sort Your Garbage

I know that in the developed world, systems like these are already in place. But for most third world countries, ha.. there is no such thing as garbage sorting. So if you come to Japan, you need to learn how to sort your garbage.

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14) Girls panties may get stolen


If females hang up their under wears outside... It may get stolen. As far as I was told, this applies to all of Japan, whether rural or city.




No. I didn't take this picture.
I downloaded it... honestly!!!

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15) National Pride

Many Japanese people are very proud and think that every other race is a joke compared to the Japanese people. Many wont accept foreign marriages and many think Japan is the best country on earth. For eg. Japan has 4 clear seasons, and apparently many of them think Japan is the only country with 4 clear season which is not so.
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16) Only USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand Speaks English

So if you are not from any of the above countries, and your mother tongue is English, then many Japanese people won't have a clue

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17) Many Bugs

Japan has bugs bugs and more bugs especially in the Summer. And they are annoying sugimasu. ====================
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18) Many smokers and Drinkers

I had no clue before coming to Japan that there were so many smokers and drinkers here. And I mean its like every other Japanese person you meet they smoke... Well that chiefly the males still. I don't see many Japanese women smoking. But the men, Oh Lord. Drinking and smoking is like a ritual.
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19) Many Japanese People Don't Care their Teeth

So just walking around anywhere in Japan, you will notice that dental care is almost like a last resort. There are many people with very very very bad teeth especially in the rural areas. It is terrible. and the Japanese tooth paste aren't that good either. There are a few people with very nice teeth but my Lord man, a part from those with nice teeth, darn.... 

My Japanese ex-gf back in Okayama was a dental care assistant. She and another guy who loves Jamaican culture, were shocked when they realized I had no bad teeth.  



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20) Many Nerds / Otaku
Yes they are many many nerds in Japan. Some could not care less whether its night or day, they live in the magazine shops and live on video games and anime. And these are not normal nerds, they are extremely weird.





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21) 75% of Japanese Girls are Cute

I must admit that many Japanese girls are stunningly beautiful.....and that speaks for itself...If you see a Japanese girl now and thought she was beautiful, just give yourself a few minutes, you will see a better looking one...That though also depends a whole lot on the area where you live... If its in the rural vicinities, then its going to be a sad story for you, unless a college is nearby.
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22) There are many Old People in Japan

Yes Japan is an ageing population. But the xenophobic government still don't have any good plans to combat this. Even though its estimated that in the next 50 years or so, the population will be near half what it is now. The guys don't really want the girls, and a good couple of the girls are not interested in foreigners. Many are but many are not. So its just a sad story. It seem as if many of the girls would rather stay alone than to date a foreigner. And if you are a girl foreigner and like Japanese men, hopefully you are in the city, because if its in the rural areas!!! Then all the best in your endeavours... And its worst if you are black.


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Day 1553 ( Typhoon Guchol )
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Today was a bit windy because a typhoon was heading this way. In the night the winds got out of control, but still nothing compared to what we experience in Jamaica when a hurricane hits.



Here is the news about it

A powerful typhoon made landfall Tuesday for the first time this year in southern Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, with evacuation orders issued for more than 150,000 people in central, eastern and northeastern Japan.
The typhoon brought torrential rainfall of over 100 millimeters per hour to central Japan and around Tokyo.



In addition to causing historic rainfall across Japan Tuesday that forced thousands to evacuate, Typhoon Guchol was distinctive for being the first typhoon in eight years to make landfall in June.

Usually the typhoon season reaches its peak in August and September, when the storms come up from the south and draw a bead on Japan, riding the edge of the North Pacific High, a massive semipermanent "anticyclone."




The storm caused record rainfall in several areas before weakening in the Pacific east of Japan, according to the Meteorological Agency.
Hourly rainfall reached new highs for June in some locations, with Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki Prefecture, observing 56 mm, while wind speeds also hit records for the month in some cities, including 137.2 kph in Chiba, it said.
The powerful typhoon, the season's fourth, which affected 10 prefectures, including Tokyo, was the first to make landfall this year and the first tropical storm to hit Japan in June since 2004. Guchol was the seventh-earliest typhoon to reach Japanese soil on record.
In Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Kentaro Yamamoto, 53, was killed when a prefabricated building collapsed amid powerful winds, and a 16-year-old girl disappeared in Nirasaki, Yamanashi Prefecture, around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday near a swollen river, police said.
The heavy rain led to evacuation advisories being issued to around 123,000 residents


http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120620a1.html#.T-gP3Rce68p

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120621a4.html#.T-gQARce68p

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120621a8.html#.T-gQQxce68p


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Day 1554 ( Why The Birthrate in Japan is Declining )
Wednesday, June 20, 2012 ( 4 Years 3 Months )

Felt like I was going to faint at work today. I was running a bit late so I missed breakfast. Then I had only first graders and special students today, meaning I had to be very energetic. Luckily the class I had before lunch, the teacher requested to end the class about 10 mins earlier.

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I found this article quite interesting.....


The truth about Japanese love: We just don't get along




One of my younger cousins, aged 23, managed to pull off what he calls thekotoshino igyō (今年の偉業, the great accomplishment of this year).
In case you're wondering, this has nothing to do with nuclear reactors or government reform. A sōshoku danshi (草食男子, herbivore male) with wrists and ankles like matchsticks, this cousin was invited to be the sole male member of a joshikai (女子会, girls only party), all expenses footed by the joshi (女子, girls), their ages varying between 28 and 34. According to my cousin, the ladies were typical nikushoku joshi (肉食女子, carnivorous women) who pulled his hair, told him what was wrong with his wardrobe, probed incessantly about his sex life and kept him drinking until the wee hours. He's still recovering from the experience, and said to me (coughing a little): "Shōganaiyo, anoyoru boku wa petto mitaina mono dattakara" (「しょうがないよ、あの夜ぼくはペットみたいなものだったから」"It can't be helped because that night, I was like a pet)." Maji (まじ, really)? Elsewhere in the world, pets are treated with more respect.

The joshikai-plus-one is a nifty invention and the joshi that plan these events usually like to make sure the additional male is of the young and adorable variety. Even better if the boy is susceptible to seduction and unoffended by the inevitable ijiritaoshi (いじりたおし merciless poking fun) that add extra zing to these gatherings.
Generally though, Japanese women and men prefer to stick to their own genders. Lunchtime at any ofisugai (オフィス街, office town) in and around Tokyo will show men lined up around greasy ramen joints or bentō shops while women sit down at nicer venues in groups of three and four. Dōryō(同僚, colleagues) may smile and call out to each other on the street but only rarely do you see mixed gender groups enjoying a meal together. My grandfather used to say that men and women should sit at the same table no more than once a week, because it led to bickering and stress. Indeed, my obāchan (おばあちゃん, grandmother), his wife, served his meals and poured out his beer, but when the necessary chores were done, she often retreated to the kitchen to tend to her own needs. She held it was more restful that way and said: "Daidokoro wa onna no seiiki" (「台所は女の聖域」"For women, the kitchen is their sanctuary"), unviolated by the male presence.

That was a scene from the late 20th century, but decades later, gender separation is still an enduring custom. Restaurants have redīsu menu (レディースメニュー, ladies menu) that are daintier and easier on the eye than male-oriented fare. Internet cafes have "Josei senyō būsu (女性専用ブース, women's only booths) that have softer lighting and extra amenities. Nearly all hotels give out the redīsu setto (レディースセット, ladies set, i.e., little satchels containing cotton puffs, hair bands, plastic brushes and maybe a facial pack. Commuter trains have josei senyōsha (女性専用車, women-only cars) that were originally set up to protect women from chikan (痴漢, sexual perverts), but are now seen as an ideal way to avoid trouble between the sexes.

My personal take on it is that the men and women on this archipelago have never really learned to get along. Shakaigakusha (社会学者, sociologists) say that the history of the bukeshakai (武家社会, samurai society) have had a profound effect on the way Japanese men view women and vice-versa. Take for example, the first samurai to set up a shogunate in 1192: Minamoto Yoritomo (源頼朝). The guy was a calculating, conniving SOB who killed his own brother in the interests of power, but even he was no match for his wife Masako (政子). Masako was the prototype for smart, ambitious Japanese women, willing to sacrifice everything for the kamei (家名, family name) and by many accounts, she nagged Yoritomo to solidify his position, accumulate wealth and show that he deserved her — a famed beauty (with brains to match) born a princess of the prestigious Hojo warrior clan.


http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/ek20120618a1.html?fb_ref=.T-Ely61gIBF.like&fb_source=home_multiline#.T-ga2Bce68r



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Day 1555 ( Main School, Office Staff Dinner )
Thursday, June 21, 2012

After work, went back to my apartment a bit then headed to a office staff dinner for my main school. Only the staff that didn't control a class were to be present. This included the vice principal and principal. The foreigner who teaches international understanding to the students also came along. He is from Mexico and has been living in Japan for over 30 years.

We went to a very traditional Japanese style cottage of sorts. I warned them from before not to give me any raw meat or tofu. I'm glad they actually took me into consideration. This is a rare occasion.



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Day 1556 ( Why are Jamaicans So Fast in Sprinting? )
Friday, June 22, 2012

Recently, Friday is not my favourite day of the week. This is because I now have YMCA classes after my normal job. Then the following day is also work at the YMCA. But.... It helps a great deal with paying the bills. Today, I taught 3 grade 6 children. They are pretty good at English and today their parents came to visit my class for an open day event.

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Lightning Bolts: Why do all the top sprinters come from Jamaica?




(CNN) -- When the fastest men on the planet contest the Olympic 100 meters final in London on August 5, it will be a major upset if the winner does not come from the small Caribbean island of Jamaica.
Injuries or false starts aside, Usain Bolt will take center stage as he bids to retain the title he won in Beijing in 2008, but if he slips up then young pretender Yohan Blake is waiting in the wings, not to mention veteran former world record-holder Asafa Powell.
With such a pool of talent, 4x100m relay success is almost guaranteed, and Bolt is an even heavier favorite for 200m individual gold.
In the women's events, Jamaican domination is also a common theme, with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce defending her 100m crown andVeronica Campbell-Brown going for a hat-trick of golds in the 200m



The article has wayy more details, you can check it out....

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/21/sport/olympics-jamaica-sprinting-heroes-bolt/index.html



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Day 1557( Most Japanese Dislike Chinese ) 
Saturday, June 23, 2012

Went to YMCA today again where more parents came to view my classes.

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84% in Japan have negative impression of China; 65% there feel the same way back



A recent annual joint bilateral poll has found that 84.3 percent of Japanese and 64.5 percent of Chinese respondents have a negative impression of each other's country, although about 80 percent on both sides see bilateral relations as important, the poll's sponsors said Wednesday. 


The percentage of Japanese with a negative impression of China rose 6 percentage points from the previous year, reaching the highest level since the Japanese think tank Genron NPO and the state-run China Daily initiated the annual survey in 2005, they said.
The most frequently cited reason was that China comes across as selfish in securing resources and energy. This was cited by 54.4 percent of respondents allowed to select multiple reasons.
The second reason, cited by 48.4 percent, was that China has continued a territorial dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
The percentage of Chinese respondents with negative feelings toward Japan declined 1.4 percentage points from last year.
The most frequently cited factor contributing to such feelings was the history of bilateral relations, including the war. Among other factors, some 40 percent cited the Japanese government's tough stance on the Senkaku dispute.
The poll was conducted from April through May covering 1,000 Japanese and 1,627 Chinese.



http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120621b2.html#.T-gtxhce68p

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post, it's really useful for us who don't have any experience and want to live in Japan. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post, really helps many people who don't have any experience in Japan and want to live there. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for share your experiences living in Japan, this information help many people who want to live there too. :)